Autumn sunshine is glorious but can be extremely challenging for motorists and the cause of nearly 3,000 road accidents a year* (*Institute of Advanced Motorists figures), particularly in October when the sun is low in the sky and sets earlier in the evening and rises later in the morning.
The main problem is glare which can be blinding at times. It can seriously reduce your ability to see and plan for the road ahead. If the road is wet from rain or frost, the glare can be intensified as the sun reflects off the road surface. The situation can be worsened by having a dirty windscreen.
With these points in mind, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure you are prepared to deal with these conditions:
• Keep your windscreen clean and grease free, both inside and out. Use a microfibre cloth to wipe down the inside and make sure your washer bottle is filled with a good quality screen washer liquid.
• Where visibility is reduced, lower your speed to allow you more time to respond to hazards. If low sun is obstructing what you see ahead slow down – this is particularly important at sharp bends where it’s important to have a clear view of the approaching hazard.
• Be particularly aware of pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, mobility scooter and electric wheelchair users as they are more difficult to see in low sun conditions. Always take extra precautions at known hazard spots like schools, junctions and crossings.
• With the night’s drawing in, ensure you switch on your headlights before sunset and keep them on for an hour after sunrise so there is no possibility of other road users not seeing you.
• Be more aware of following vehicles too closely; they may also be affected by the sun’s glare and could stop suddenly. It is also more difficult to see brake lights in bright sunshine
• Wear sunglasses and/or use your visor to cut out as much glare as possible
• Avoid looking directly into the sun. Sharp rays can affect your vision. If this happens to you, take a break from driving by stopping safely and legally.
Low winter sun poses a real danger to road users at this time of year. Remember to always drive within the speed limits and at an appropriate speed for the road conditions.